Thursday, April 23, 2015

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman
Release Date - April 21, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 416 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?
After the powerful Prisoner of Night and Fog I was anxious to see what would come next for Gretchen and Daniel. Anne Blankman shows off her versatile skills with a sequel that takes a slightly different direction, and yet continues the story in a believable way. A breathless, dizzying murder mystery is the heart of this novel, and it's one that will have you burning through the pages unable to read fast enough.

Where Prisoner of Night and Fog was more of a psychological thriller, this second novel feels more like a classic 'who done it' style of storytelling. In this case it's more of a 'why done it', but the formula feels similar. The added element of increasing support for Hitler and his ideas, however, increases the risk and danger. It feels more palpable because it feels tangible and grounded. Anne captures the historical elements so flawlessly that it's all to easy to image.

Anne stepping from a thriller, to more of a murder mystery with such ease shows how versatile she is as a writer. The writing seems completely at ease in either, and I predict that she may end up being an author that dabbles in various genres. The attention to detail, particularly for a novel with a historical setting, is vital. It immerses you into the story, and there is a sense of foreboding that overcomes you. We have hindsight, and with it comes the knowledge of what happens next. History is working against what we as the reader are hoping for. We know what occurs after Hitler gains power, and that reality feels like a rock in your stomach as you tear through the pages hoping fruitlessly that history changes.

Hilter was such a domineering, driving force in Prisoner of Night and Fog. He was central to the plot. In this novel, however, we see him from a distance instead of up close and personal. We see him the way everyone following the story at the time would have. The paranoia, mixed with an all consuming fear, felt authentic. It gave a taste of how his name must have struck fear into those in hiding. The glimpse we're provided of wanting to be overlooked, of wanting to remain safe, and being terrified that Hilter or his men would find you is terrifying.

The romance between Gretchen and Daniel is so achingly realistic. The problems they face in this novel, outside of the obvious ones, are ones that couples face all the time. The idea of what makes each of you happy, and that it might not be the same thing, and what that means for the relationship is adeptly woven through the entire story. Loving someone enough to want their happiness, even if that is not with you, is a huge sacrifice, and struggle. The pain of this is crushing, and how leaving them hurts, but hurting them by not letting them go hurts more. They way they work through their issues, and actually communicate is healthy. They may in fact be one of my favourite relationships I've recently read because of how functional they are together.

Those who love historical novels will fall in love with this duology and Anne Blankman's writing. Those who like their history with action, excitement, romance and intrigue will devour this high speed plot. I can only hope that we have many more future books from this author to enjoy, as she's certainly one to watch.

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